Dear concerned and vigilant parents,

Ever since the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak started, more and more of you are starting to look into moving the whole learning experience online, in order to reduce face-to-face contact with others.

I have been teaching for more than 12 years. Since 4 years ago, I started doing online maths tutoring,  and I have been training other tutors to transform their tutoring practice with online tutoring technologies.

Since online tutoring in Singapore is relatively new, there are some facts which may surprise you about it:

#1: You don’t have to be high tech to start online tuition.

Online tutoring technology has matured to a point, where it can be carried out smoothly over most of our everyday devices. For example, the platform I use, ClassDo.com, only needs a Windows / Mac / Chromebook laptop, a smartphone and your house wifi to start decently smooth online tuition. 

If you want to invest in bigger and better devices like 17 inches touch screen laptops, USI stylus, Wacom tablets, state-of-the-art speaker / mic and 5G wifi, by all means – they are going to give you a better online learning experience. But they are not really a must-have if you just want to start online tutoring.

#2: Online tutoring is much more than just watching pre-recorded teaching videos like Superstar Teachers.

Most parents I talked to in the past had their own idea about online tutoring. Some thought it is watching pre-recorded videos like Superstar Teachers and then completing worksheets. Some thought it is a Learning Management System (LMS) like Khan Academy, where you watch videos and complete quizzes online.

From what I can see, online tutoring has evolved beyond merely showing videos to students. Some of the online tutors I know have developed entire online learning systems to give a superior learning experience for students. 

For example, history / social studies expert Karen Ang (www.learnmojo.com) offers online marking services combined with online consultation for her subjects.

PSLE maths experts Kai and Junhong from Kainetik Learning Centre (https://www.kainetik.com/) offers a self-paced online course on their proprietary MAX Method. They provide 24/7 Q&A support via Facebook group, and online live lessons where necessary.

Another PSLE maths and parenting expert John Yeo from Learning Out Of The Box (https://www.learningoutofthebox.org/fblive) conducts Facebook Live workshops to coach parents on problem solving methods. His FB Live workshops regularly attract between 200 to 1100 views in his community of over 5000 parents and he has many positive testimonials from parents.

I offer a twice weekly, small group online coaching combined with paper-based assignments in my company (lovetolearnsg.com) for maximum results.

#3: Online tutoring is not only for big kids in college

Some parents I talked to think that it’s impossible, or very hard, to teach primary school kids through online tutoring. I shared with them this Chinese teacher I knew called Xu Laoshi, who is a very talented Chinese teacher. She was able to engage primary school kids in online lessons, four at a time. She was very popular.

Personally, I taught a P2 kid from China over WeChat for about 10 lessons. I also taught an ADHD P5 boy for 2 years through online tutoring. He did well for his PSLE maths last year. I tutored a few secondary students online too. Almost all of them improved.

#4: Online tutoring can be really, really flexible and customised to your needs

There are at least two things that some parents dislike about traditional tuition: the travelling, and the time / duration of the classes.

In online tutoring, there is no travelling, so our kids stay in the safety of our homes and we won’t have to worry about them loitering before / after tuition classes. Since most of us know that already, so I won’t talk about it.

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When it comes to timing of tuition classes, I have heard some complaints. Some parents complain that tuition classes start too early, that their kids have no time to eat proper meals after school and have to rush to attend tuition classes. Some complain that tuition classes end too late, and their kids reach home too late. Some laments that their kids only have time to study late at night because of their hectic schedule in school. Yet some said that their kids get very restless after the first 30 minutes in typical 1.5 hours tuition classes

Well, the good news is, online tutoring allows for rather amazing customization for the needs of the kids. 

Since online tutoring classes can start and end very easily at the click of a button, and there is no travelling involved, there is a lot of flexibility in lesson duration. 

Lessons can be made very short, like 30 minutes each time.

Lessons can be made very long, like 3-4 hours, with breaks in between for meals and toilet breaks.

Lessons can be made to be more frequent, like 2-3 times a week. 

Lessons can be made to start late at night – I once taught a student from 9.30-10.30pm every night for two weeks, and he always met me in his pyjamas.

It all depends on the needs of the learners. Online tutors can pull off these amazing arrangements because they have freed themselves from physical travelling.

#5: Not every tutor knows about online tutoring and can offer them

By and large, from what I can see, tutors who are apt in conducting online tuition are still a minority in Singapore. Some are too scared to try, some still prefer to put themselves in front of their students, some are skeptical and think that online tutoring can never take off, some are simply ignorant about how online tutoring has progressed.

Partnering with ClassDo.com, I have conducted online and offline workshops for about two years, to train tutors to bring their tutoring practices online. In mid-2019 we started a support group for online tutors called Tutors Assemble!, and it is slowly becoming a place where quality online tutors / tuition centres come together. You can contact me at jason@lovetolearnsg.com if you are searching for qualified online tutors for any subject, and I will be very happy to connect you to suitable tutors.

#6: Online programs can be as effective, if not more effective, than traditional classroom or 1-to-1 tuition

Some parents have a bad impression of online tutoring and online courses, thinking that they are an inferior cousin to traditional classroom or 1-to-1 tuition. It is true that there are some online programs in the market that are not well designed. Some are just very raw transposition of traditional tuition to the online space, and it doesn’t work well. 

On the other hand, well-designed online tutoring programs are very effective. Case in point: Caleb Ho, a friend of mine, is the go-to tutor for Principles of Accounts (hyperlink: http://www.principlesofaccounts.com.sg). His online program, Master Principles of Accounts, offers pre-recorded concept lessons, quizzes, assessments that students can learn and manage at their own pace. His program has undergone heavy testing in his own classes since 2018 and students have reported significant improvement from F9 to A2 within 2 months for O level POA using primarily his videos for learning with online consultation for additional support.

Image: Zachary Chia, St Patricks School 2019 using Caleb’s Master POA Portal

#7: Online tutoring is actually already a BIG thing in other countries and we are playing catch up now

In Singapore, it is relatively easy to find a nearby tuition centre, and travelling around is relatively safe and convenient. Perhaps because of this, there was no burning need for online tutoring.

But make no mistake, online tutoring is not a new thing in the world. Big countries like US, India, China are already embracing online tutoring and learning. Online tutoring and learning has a penetration rate of 11.6% in China, or has reached 169 million people in China (https://bg.qianzhan.com/trends/detail/506/190805-37840088.html). That means almost one out of 10 school children is already using online tutoring and learning for their education.

#Conclusion:

I think it is safe to say that online tutoring is here to stay, like online shopping through Amazon, Lazada, Taobao, etc. Or like ordering food through Food Panda, or getting a ride through Grab app. These technologies have changed our mind with the convenience and value they brought to the table. It is quite impossible to go back to the old days when we only buy things from shops, when we only go out to have a meal, and stand beside the road to hail for taxis.

During this critical period of Wuhan virus saga, it might be a good time to start trying out online tutoring, and discover what it can bring to your table.

#Bonus:

Dear parents: I’ve listed down some excellent and reliable online tutors I personally know, who specialize in various subjects. In my list you can find information such as:

  • Subject
  • Level
  • Description of lessons
  • Software and hardware requirement for online lessons
  • Lesson dates and times
  • Contact details

Get in touch with me at jason@lovetolearnsg.com for the complete and updated list!

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